Have you ever had to throw an event together last minute or cancel it completely because you didn’t have time to work out the details? Do you ever feel like you are drowning in everything that needs to get done? Or often see all the things you should have done float by without any attention? I know I have.
Managing your time in a ministry context can be extremely difficult. Ministry is relational which means it is easy to lose track of time when you are socializing with people, counseling them, or helping with unexpected issues in their lives. It is also difficult because going to games, plays, concerts, visiting schools, and meeting students for coffee is also a part of the relational aspect of youth ministry. The job is not all desk work, but desk work still needs to get done.
So, how do you effectively manage your time in ministry? Here are a few tips…
1. Find a routine
One of the most effective ways to manage your time is to find a routine and stick to it. It is easy to fall into a pattern of chaos, which is why structure is so important. Do the same things in the same routine week after week. The structure will help immensely with managing your time. Instead of just thinking of the mountain of work you have to do and taking it as it pops up in your brain, set a routine so know you will work on certain things at certain times. Obviously your routine will be disrupted occasionally, but when you have a routine it is easier to get back on track when a disruption inevitably occurs. Plan out your week and develop a routine that works…and stick to it!
We are all guilty of spending too much time on meaningless tasks and neglecting important ones from time to time. It is a total time management killer but can easily be fixed. We need to take a second to prioritize the tasks that need to be completed, the ones that don’t, the ones that can wait, and the ones that can be delegated. Spend a few moments first thing each morning putting your to-do list into those categories. Use wisdom and prioritize.
3. Learn to say no
This is something many people struggle with. Saying no is not easy, but sometimes in order to preserve our own time we need to learn to say no. I understand this is difficult, especially in ministry where you are expected to wear many hats (check out this post, “Not In My Job Description: How To Be A Youth Pastor That Wears Many Hats”) but learning to say no to things that are unimportant or do not need to be done by you is something that will immediately improve your time management.
4. Give what you are doing 100%
Any ADD people out there? I understand. But one of the quickest ways to wreck your time management is to scatter your brain across 5 tasks at once and not focus on what you are doing. We need to learn to be laser-focused on the task at hand so we can complete it well and efficiently before we move onto the next task. Again, I understand the difficulty of this, especially in ministry when things pop up so quickly and you really never know who and when someone is going to walk through your office door. But when you can learn to focus and complete the task at hand, your time management will improve drastically.
5. Make specific time for social media
Social media is the sucker of all time. It will suck you in and steal your day without you even realizing it. Just checking your notifications “real quick” is never that simple. Truthfully, I can rarely get through a task without pulling out my phone to scroll a little bit and completely waste my time doing so. I am not advocating eliminating social media completely because it is necessary to connect (especially in youth ministry!), but when it comes to our time management, we must learn to tame the time suck of social media. Don’t check your social media while you are trying to compete tasks. When developing your routine or schedule for the day, set aside specific time (with a predetermined start and end time) for social media. Do not allow social media to derail your time management.
6. Use Tools
There are many tools, apps, and tricks out there that can help with time management and productivity. Use them! Here are a few apps, but there are plenty more out there, find some that work for you!
–Week Plan – an iOS and Windows app that helps you plan out and schedule your weekly tasks. There is a free version, or a $1 a week version.
–Toggl – an iOS and Android app that helps with time tracking and productivity. There are both free and paid options for the app.
–MeisterTask – an iOS, Android, Mac or Windows app that allows you to manage projects, tasks, and a team. This app also offers a free or paid version.
–A timer – literally just the timer on your phone. Set a timer and give yourself time limits for completing tasks.
–Hootsuit – A social media post scheduler that can be used to save time posting to your ministry accounts, or your personal ones if you are a scheduled poster. Using this app to schedule in advance prevents mindless scrolling when you have to post.
Managing your time can be difficult but it is a skill that can be learned and hopefully these tips will help you get the most out of your day. If you would like to ask more questions or spend some time with one of our experienced coaches, check out our coaching program here.
Todd has been in youth ministry for over a decade and has a passion for reaching lost students and training youth workers to do the same. He is the founder of Stoked On Youth Ministry, a speaker, author, and pastor. When Todd is not writing or speaking he enjoys surfing, baseball and most importantly hanging out with his awesome wife and three beautiful daughters. You can connect with Todd on Twitter @TheTodd_Jones, Instagram @Todd_Jones or for speaking inquiries visit TheToddJones.com